“Is it OK to use photos, containing album covers and band memorabilia, on my blog?”

27th April 2021

You may be unaware that copyright comes into effect as soon as a creative idea takes a permanent form, whether it be a photograph, sculpture, poem or blog. Having copyright in a work means you can stop people copying it. But what if you use someone else’s work when creating a blog of your own?

We were asked this question by a client who was planning on using titles of well-known songs in a blog about how to approach business strategy. He wanted to enhance the blog by using his flat-lay photograph of the artist’s album covers.

Although we were comfortable that the song titles would not cause too much of an issue, and he would acquire copyright in the photograph taken because the image was essentially a reproduction of the original copyright work on the album covers, it might be considered an infringement. With the ever-growing emphasis on social media and the popularity of blogging, we considered this in depth.

When the albums were purchased, the musical artist (and the plethora of people involved in producing the CD) would have received a proportionate share of royalties. As such, their rights (save the musical/audio elements) in the CD had been exhausted. It ought, therefore, to be the case that the appearance of each CD in the blogger’s image would not cause any loss of revenue to the musical artist, and therefore constitute ‘fair use.’

If the owner of an original copyright were to take issue with the use of their artwork within a photo for a blog, the ‘fair dealing/use’ defence can be found in s.30 of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988. This provides that it is not an infringement of a copyright if the reproduction of the work (which has been issued to the public) is used for the purposes of criticism, review, or quotation or for the purposes of reporting current events (unless the original work is a photograph).

You would still need to acknowledge the source of the other work, but if your use of it falls within either of the above scenarios, you may have a successful defence to complaints.

Creative images are often used in blogging to add aesthetic and draw the reader’s attention. The courts, when considering if the use is ‘fair’, will look at the impact the use has on the original creator. In the flat-lay scenario here, the impact will be negligible and, if anything, the image of a collection of the artist albums may encourage the readers of the blog to buy those albums, creating further revenue for the musical artist.

So, is it OK?

In theory, yes you can use your own pictures of the album, books, and memorabilia that you have bought, as part of your blog, if it’s in line with the above. However, as with many things in our legal system, it will depend hugely on the individual circumstances. If in doubt, please contact us to check beforehand to avoid any unnecessary complaints.